Sports

NBA will resume playoff games following player protests over Jacob Blake shooting

Key Points
  • NBA playoff games are expected to resume after Wednesday's games were postponed due to player protests over Jacob Blake's shooting.
  • According to various reports, NBA players voted to continue the postseason, although it's unclear when the games would resume.
A general view of the court after the postponed game five of the first round of the NBA Playoffs between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets at The Field House at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 26, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
Kim Klement | Pool | Getty Images

The National Basketball Association is expected to resume its postseason playoffs after a protest by players over the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

The league announced its resumption Thursday afternoon, adding that games playoff games scheduled for Thursday are postponed. The NBA's board of governors also met to discuss the matter, but The Associated Press reported there has yet to be a resolution to when games will be rescheduled.  

"We are hopeful to resume games either Friday or Saturday," the NBA said in a statement. "There is a video conference call meeting scheduled later this afternoon between a group of NBA players and team governors representing the 13 teams in Orlando, along with representatives from the National Basketball Players Association and the league office and NBA Labor Relations Committee Chairman Michael Jordan, to discuss next steps."

Blake, a Black man, was shot multiple times in the back by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The shooting sparked protests in Kenosha and elsewhere throughout the week. Blake is paralyzed from the waist down, according to his father. The NBA announced it would postpone all games on Wednesday after Milwaukee Bucks players declined to take the court Wednesday to play Game 5 against the Orlando Magic in protest of the shooting.

Bucks players gathered hours after the league's announcement to explain their decision to sit out the game in protest of the shooting 40 miles south of Milwaukee. 

"Over the last few days in our home state of Wisconsin, we've seen the horrendous video of Jacob Blake being shot in the back seven times by a police officer in Kenosha, and the additional shooting of protestors," the Bucks said in a statement, according to NBA.com. "Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball."

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While appearing on CNBC's "Squawk Alley" on Thursday, Sacramento Kings co-owner Chris Kelly hinted that the NBA would resume it playoffs following meetings by the league's board of governors.

"We're ready to do more and do more in partnership with the players," Kelly said of the owners.

"The Bucks ownership and ownership around the league respond[ed] quickly last night, saying we're supportive of this movement and this understanding that things have to change and faster than they are right now."

The Bucks' protest sparked similar protests in other pro sports leagues, like the WNBA, Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer. WNBA games scheduled for Thursday will also be postponed, The Associated Press reported. Tennis star Naomi Osaka said she would not continue to play in the Western & Southern Open semifinal. The National Football League's Indianapolis Colts also canceled its Thursday practice to bring more awareness and education to the issues of social injustice.

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Before resuming games in Orlando after a five-month Covid-19 pause, the NBA agreed it would use its platform to help its players continue to address racial matters and bring awareness to police brutality. League owners also stepped up financial support to fight social and economic injustices in the Black community.

The NBA and National Basketball Players Association pledged $300 million to start the "NBA Foundation," a 10-year program "dedicated to creating greater economic empowerment in the Black community." 

The NBA said 30 club owners would collectively contribute $30 million annually to the foundation that will "increase access and support for high school, college-aged and career-ready Black men and women."

In addition, some club owners have stepped up individually. Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai and Clara Wu Tsai offered an additional $50 million to help fight injustices.

"You have to admit that racism exists, and you have to understand that there are systemic imbalances in society that cause racism and cause lack of economic mobility and lack of wage trajectory." Wu Tsai told CNBC on Monday.   

"We need to find ways to continue to keep this topic at the top of mind without it having to be the senseless death of somebody."

But players also want owners to also use political influence to help those victimized by police.

"When there is a new name added to these lists, Breonna Taylor, it needs to stop," Kelly said, referring to the shooting death of the Black woman by Louisville police officers.

"And the frustration that the players feel is something that's felt broadly among the ownership group, too," he added. "We want to see change."

President Donald Trump criticized the NBA's ratings during its bubble and said the league has become like "a political organization, and that's not a good thing. I don't think that's a good thing for sports or for the country."

Appearing on CNBC's "Power Lunch" Thursday, Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta called NBA players "our partners" and said he disagreed with Trump's comments.  

"I think that is not a good statement," Fertitta said. "I don't know why he made that statement. And it's disappointing because everybody right now is somewhat of a political organization and that's why we all need to work together, to pull everybody, to work together to solve all these issues. "

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